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5 students from Nigeria at Abilene Christian University killed in March 31, 2002 one-car accident

Special to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com

A tragedy on Easter Sunday March 31, 2002, is bringing sorrow and communal anguish to Nigerians in Texas, and thousands of miles to the primary addresses of the deceased in Lagos (Nigeria).
While many Nigerians in Texas enjoyed their Easter celebrations and its message of redemption, the late-breaking news of the death of the five Abilene Christian University (Texas) students from that country of almost 110 million persons in a one-car accident about four miles southwest of Weatherford, in the Parker County, is raising the troubling questions again: why now? why them? why did these promising youths die in such a sad and ghastly manner? why...?

18 year-old Kolawole Oluwagbemiga Sami was identified as the driver of the 1994 Isuzu Rodeo SUV which had 1 other man and 3 women: Olutomi Ibukun Aruwajoye, 17, Toluwalope Olorunsola, 18, Abimbola Orija, 19, and Iyadunni Bakare, 18.

The students were driving very early in the morning when at 6:35 a.m., according to a statement from the university "the vehicle went off a bridge, hit a retaining wall, and landed on its roof, the officer reported." It adds that "no cause for the accident has been determined." There are, now, only 22 Nigerian students at the Abilene Christianity university. They are parts of the new crop christian youth and energing leaders who came to the school as part of tan international christian education prgram.

At the service in their honor at the campus, Provost Dwayne D. VanRheenen said "This tragedy reminds us (of) ... the words of Scripture that life is like a vapor that appears for a time, then vanishes away, As Christians we have hope, not despair."

Kevin Kehl, associate director for the Center for International and Intercultural Education at ACU recalled that "I knew these students personally, and I knew the families of these kids.... It is a real loss to the ACU community and to the other Nigerian students here. This is a great loss."

The AP quotes the Department of Public Safety Trooper Jeremy Smith as stating the students left Houston about 10 p.m. Saturday (0400 GMT Sunday). It was 6:35 a.m. (1235 GMT) Sunday when their vehicle ran off the road near Weatherford, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) east of Abilene, and landed on its roof about 30 feet (9 meters) below on a concrete embankment. "They had been driving all night, so the speculation is they fell asleep," he said.

Almost every year since 1990, some Nigerian and African students die in very difficult and painful circumstances of car accidents, in different parts of the U.S. Why the young, one must ask, die so you; even befire the maturation of their lives; why do they die in the bloom of their live's quest. Moreso, I'm reminded of the human efforts for some "security" but the reality of death occurs with such certainty that I also recall the philosopher Epicurus who said that "It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls." Even with the certainty of death, -Kahlil Gibran, in the "The Voice of the Poet" was quick to note that "death most resembles a prophet who is without honor in his own land or a poet who is a stranger among his people."


Chido Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), is Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), USAfrica The Newspaper, NigeriaCentral.com and The Black Business Journal. He also serves as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates.

Oh God, grant these young ones eternal rest.
This report of the death of these young persons is mind-numbing! The joy of the risen Christ is eclipsed on one hand. But, there is a greater joy in knowing that by the piercing pangs the living Christ bore on the Cross of Calvary; the Reality of Resurrection, a beautiful dwelling above awaits all believers of the Word. Hopefully, to eternity, spent in Heaven, they be gone. At home in the Lord's bosom, hallelujahs, they chorus with their youthful energy. And may we by Your special grace and mercy, be spared of this sort in future. Our prayers remain with their respective families, friends and colleagues. From Nkem Ekeopara, in Britain.

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TRIBUTE
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DIPLOMACY Walter Carrington: African-American diplomat who put principles above self for Nigeria (USAfrica's founder Chido Nwangwu with Ambassador Carrington at the U.S. embassy, Nigeria)
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Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.
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110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
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Lifestyle Sex, Women and (Hu)Woman Rights. By Chika Unigwe

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USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston 2001 special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.

DEMOCRACY DEBATE
CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.


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What has Africa to do with September 11 terror? By Chido Nwangwu
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Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (above) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.
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In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'

APPRECIATION
A young father writes his One year old son: "If only my heart had a voice...."

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CONTINENTAL AGENDA
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."

These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president.
By Al Johnson